Maria

Until I was 43, my life felt pretty normal. Growing up in rural, western Chesterfield with my parents and two younger siblings, my life revolved around our large extended family, close church community, and local public schools. At 15, I met my husband, John, through my high school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and we dated through college (JMU & VT), marrying in 1989. 

Over the years, as his career as a lawyer and, eventually, a law professor developed, our family grew to three daughters and a son. Our life together was truly beautiful; it was very full between our family, his career, and our church. But, in 2012, he collapsed while jogging on the University of Richmond campus, where he was a professor at the law school. Within moments, he died of a cerebral brain hemorrhage. Life, as we knew it, tragically ended. 

For the past ten years, I have been devoted to, “finishing well what we started together” as I raised our children to adulthood. Our children were 10, 13, 15, and 17 when John died, so it has been an intense journey. A few years ago, I went back to school for my teacher certification and taught MS/HS English at a private Christian school. Last year, after my children were launched into college and beyond, I took a sabbatical to do the hard, holy work of processing all that has transpired. It was time well spent.

Throughout my life, God has been faithful and ever-present to me. I can’t imagine my life without His Spirit and His Word comforting, leading, and strengthening. He has blessed me with meaningful, sustaining relationships and community through our families and dear friends who have loved us well in the midst of tragedy and healing. I am humbled, grateful, and changed. 

Hope Church is a significant part of our story over the past nine years. My involvement here is a source of God’s grace and goodness in my life. Hope’s worship and teaching have sustained me in hard seasons and consistently reminded me of God’s truth when I really needed to hear it. My heart is, “to comfort others with the comfort I have been given” (2 Cor 1:3-5) and to encourage people in their faith, even when life is hard or heartbreaking.